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iPads Help People With Low Vision Read Easier

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Backlit tablets help those with low vision read better…

A new study has shown that those with low vision find reading easier from an iPad, and other backlit tablets.

Low vision a term used for people who trouble reading, watching TV, or performing other daily activities despite glasses, contact lenses, medication, or even surgery. Many of these people resort to magnifying attachments and other low vision aids, but some simply give up on reading.

The new study, which was made up of two experiments, found that backlit tablets help those with low vision read faster and more comfortably.

In the first experiment 62 people, over half of whom suffered from macular eye disease, read three articles from the New York Times; one in the print version of the newspaper, one as computer print out and the other on an Apple iPad 2.

ipad makes reading easier for those with low vision iPads Help People With Low Vision Read Easier

Backlit Tablets Make Reading Easier For People With Low Vision

The study found that the participants read faster on the iPad than the newspaper or printed article. The improvement was most pronounced among people who had low vision in both eyes.

In the second experiment, 100 people read a chapter from a book in 5 different ways from the real book, on an iPad 2 with 12-point font, on an iPad 2 with 18-point font, on an Amazon Kindle with 12-point font and 18-point font.

The Kindle used in the study did not have a backlight, although the Kindle Fire does have one.

The results showed that the participants read faster from the iPad 2 than from the Kindle, especially when using the 18-point font.

On average the readers read 42 more words per minute on the iPad 2 with an 18-point font compared to the book. By contrast, a 12 word-per-minute gain was seen among those reading on the Kindle in the same font.

Researcher Daniel Roth, MD. He is an associate clinical professor at Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine in New Brunswick, N.J. explained that that backlight boosts contrast sensitivity or the ability to see an object stand out from its background, those suffering with low vision lose this ability:

The findings apply to anyone with compromised reading vision who has difficulty seeing letters or words. The magnified font and backlight allows them to improve their reading ability and comfort.

Mark Fromer, MD, an ophthalmologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City agress:

These devices create contrast between the letters and the background so they can read more easily without magnifiers…

The 18-point font size and the contrast allow them to pick up the shape of the letters much easier than standard print.

Janet Sunness, MD, an ophthalmologist in Baltimore, also points out that tablets are generally much cheaper than high-tech low-vision aids, which can cost as much as $3000. And iPad costs around $400.

The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology in Chicago.


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